Camping on a Budget

We've all been there. You want to take your family on a fun trip where you can make some memories but you're having trouble scraping the money together. You're not alone. I think almost everyone can say they've felt this way at some point or another. Have no fear, you can still plan an awesome family trip even if you have a really tight budget. There are so many ways to save money. We're going to give you a couple of tips to help you get on the road and start adventuring as soon as possible, all while saving that guacamole. Here are Crayons and Cairns favorite ways to camp on a budget. 

How to Camp on a Tight Budget 

Camping Saves Money

This is important to mention right off the bat. Camping saves you money instead of having to stay at a hotel. Hotels get expensive REALLY quickly and camping is a lot cheaper. So if you're itching for an adventure, make it a camping adventure! If you're on a  really tight budget, try wild camping. Wild camping is where you don't stay on a designated campground. That means you don't have to pay anything to camp! It's a free camping spot. Score! However, you do need to make sure that you're allowed to camp there because people can't just go camping wherever they want. You'll need to make sure you're on public lands. If you go the wild camping route, be aware that you won't have access to facilities because you aren't on a designated campground. Decide if you'd like to spend some extra money for a designated campground with facilities or save some money by "roughing" it a little more. 

Thrift it Up

Lots of camping gear can be bought at a second hand or thrift store. Why buy brand new pots and pans to take camping? Kitchen things are great to get at thrift stores because they're only a couple of dollars and you won't have to worry about ruining brand new kitchen stuff. Plates, bowls, mugs, cups, silverware, pots, pans, and kettles are all great things to get at a thrift store. If you're worried about germs just make sure you stick everything in the dishwasher before you use it (kinda goes without saying) and you'll be golden. You'll save a lot of money this way. 

Space Large Purchases Out

You don't need to go crazy and buy every piece of camping gear your heart desires for your upcoming camping trip. You'll see a huge dip in your bank account if you do that. If you want a nice new tent, save for awhile to purchase it. Make your old one last as long as possible while you're saving. It might take you a couple of years, but eventually, you'll have all new things to camp with. The key is to be patient and make things last. Yes, your tent might not be in great shape but will it do? Prioritize the things that need to be replaced first. 

Make Things Last

Hand me downs aren't a bad thing. If you've got a great coat that has lasted for years, pass it on down to the next kid. Every child doesn't need something new. Don't waste money buying all new things just because another child needs it. If you've got things in good shape use them! We think that buying really nice new clothes for your oldest child is a good idea because they'll definitely last a lot longer than something is already a little torn up. Buy things that can be unisex if you've got both boys and girls. If you have all girls or all boys you don't need to worry about it. But chances are your boy is going to refuse to wear his sister's pink coat with flowers no matter how good of shape it's in. 

Don't Skimp on the Important Stuff

There are some important things that you shouldn't skimp on. Anything you sleep in or that keeps you warm is really important. Buy a nice sleeping bag that will keep you warm all night long. Nothing is worse than freezing your buns off in the middle of the night. Pay a little more now on the important stuff and you won't have to keep replacing the cheap stuff you bought. It'll save you money in the long-run. Sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and rain gear are a few of the things that might be worth saving up for. These things are a little more expensive because they are designed to work well. Buy nice rain gear and you'll notice a huge difference when a crazy rainstorm hits compared to if you were in a rainstorm with a plastic poncho on. 

Utilize Free Activities

The good thing about camping is that a lot of the activities you do while camping is free. It doesn't cost anything to admire the nature or to skip rocks on a lake. Don't worry about taking big, extravagant tours or four wheeling trips. Just sit back and relax with your family. Make a fire, have some mallows, and watch the sunset. Remember, you don't need to spend extra money to make lifelong memories. Tell ghost stories, play hide and seek, sing campfire songs, or find constellations. Spending time with your family is priceless. For more ideas on what to do with your family around camp, check out our Camp Activities post!

Bring your food

You probably know by this point that going out for food, even fast food, can add up fast! Don't forget to bring plenty of snacks, drinks, and food with you. There have been many times that we've forgotten enough of these things and end up buying snacks and drinks at the gas station. You definitely want to avoid this since gas stations usually have higher prices than what you'll find at your local grocery store. To find more snack and meal ideas you'll want to check out Meal Planning.

Now it's your turn! What are your best tips and tricks for camping on a budget? Leave your comments below!



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We’re an adventurous family of five who think you should follow your wildest dreams! We’re doing just that by getting outdoors with our family and (hopefully) inspiring you to do the same! Follow us as we create a life of adventure with our three munchkins in tow!